Tied Pubs Bill passes in Scotland

The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill has been passed, bringing in the right to a Market Rent Only option for Scottish pub tenants.

The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill has been passed, bringing in a statutory Pubs Code and the right to a Market Rent Only (free-of-tie) option for Scottish pub tenants. 

Introduced and taken through the Scottish parliament by MSP Neil Bibby, a Labour MSP for the West Scotland Region, the bill will give Scottish tenants similar rights to those in England and Wales, with a right to pursue the Market Rent Only option and go free-of-tie on a market rent.

The Bill will now lead to the drafting and publication of a statutory Pubs Code and appointment of a pubs code adjudicator. 

The British Pub Confederation, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, the Campaign for Pubs, the Pubs Advisory Service and the GMB Scotland have welcomed the Bill's passing.

"It’s great news for Scottish tenants and small brewers," says Greg Mulholland, campaign director of the Campaign for Pubs and chair of the British Pub Confederation. “Ever since the Pubs Code and a Market Rent Only option were introduced in England and Wales, there has been a need for action to protect Scottish tenants, but what is very pleasing is that the Tied Pubs Bill has learned from some of the failures of the legislation in England and has looked at introducing a much simpler and clearer right to the all-important Market Rent Only option, the simple right to go free-of-tie, if tied arrangements and prices are not fair and reasonable." 

Not for everyone? 

However, the Scottish Beer & Pub Association doesn't see the Bill as good news for Scottish pubs and bars, saying that due to the uncertainty as a result of the Bill, pub owning businesses have largely paused investment into the Scottish pub sector.

“This is a sad day for the leased and tenanted pub sector in Scotland," said Emma McClarkin, CEO of Scottish Beer & Pub Association, when the Bill passed Stage 2 at the beginning of March. "Despite efforts from tenants and pub owning businesses alike, our parliamentarians are simply not listening to them and seem determined to push through a Bill which will have a long-term detrimental effect on the fabric of Scottish pub sector. 

"The Bill affects nearly a fifth of Scotland's pubs and is neither required, nor is drafted in such a way as to benefit either tenants or our member companies. At a time when pubs in Scotland are fighting for their very survival, they need their parliamentarians to support them, not do anything to hinder their recovery. Parliamentarians should be focusing on the reopening and recovery plan." 

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